Black Thought Verses: The Roots Icon’s Best Bars

Black Thought has spit some amazing verses throughout his prolific career. Here is a list of his best guest verses.

BYWyatt Westlake
Black Thought Verses: The Roots Icon’s Best Bars

Black Thought is fresh off the release of Glorious Game, his latest collaborative album with American soul band El Michels Affair. The album is yet another quality release in his prolific career, which includes eleven studio albums with The Roots and his Streams of Thought series. He also has arguably the greatest freestyles in hip hop history and also released an album with Danger Mouse in 2022. With all the music he has shared throughout the years, Black Thought is also known for delivering some incredible guest verses. He is widely considered one of the best rappers, and his features are legendary. Black Thought’s best guest verses are known for their show-stealing bars, no matter who is on the track. 

This list looks at the best Black Thought features he has contributed throughout his career. Each verse is selected considering the quality of bars, flows, and delivery in comparison to the other rappers on the song. The songs are listed in chronological order. 

Big Pun - "Super Lyrical" (1998)

Black Thought is known for always having the best verse when he gets on a song. On Big Pun’s “Super Lyrical,” the debate on who has the best verse is closer than one might think. Throughout the song, Big Pun and Black Thought continue to out rap each other, much like “Brooklyn’s Finest,” where they continue to raise the bar throughout the song. Big Pun’s verse impresses with complex rhyme schemes, while Black Thought’s flow is more simplistic yet equally effective. The contrast between rhyme styles on this song makes for one of hip hop’s greatest collaborations. This song was also one of the early examples of when Black Thought’s guest verses would encourage other rappers to step their game up.

Ghostface Killah - "In Tha Park" (2010)

Ghostface Killah’s 2010 song “In Tha Park'' is a nostalgic song about what made the origins of hip hop in New York so special. Ghostface kicks off the track by rapping about when he started falling in love with hip hop. He cites his first time seeing a DJ scratching with the MC rocking the crowd, along with the fashion. Black Thought continues with this concept, but his verse centers around the early days of hip hop’s scene in Philadelphia. His verse is also noticeably more energetic, with a flow that matches the ruggedness of the beat’s distorted guitar loop. He makes specific references to different parts of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods, putting his unique spin on the song, matching Ghostface’s verse.

Talib Kweli - "Art Imitates Life" (2013)

The best Black Thought guest verses usually start at the end of a song, saving the best verse for last. However, he starts things off on “Art Imitates Life,” setting the bar extremely high for the verses from Talib Kweli and Rah Digga. What makes this song so unique is how unorthodox the beat is. Despite how off-kilter the instrumental may be, all three rappers deliver incredible verses. His flow and ability to cut through the beat effortlessly set Black Thought’s verse apart from the rest.

Statik Selektah - "Bird's Eye View" (2013)

“Bird’s Eye View” is one of Black Thought’s most legendary guest verses. Raekwon and Joey Bada$$ set the bar high with phenomenal verses over a soulful beat produced by Statik Selektah. Even with those great verses, Black Thought completely eclipses them by rapping for two minutes straight. His rhyming on the song is incredible, and he spits quotable bars, such as when he raps, “My sonogram was an image of a gun in the womb / That was soon to be doper than heroin in a spoon.” The verse is even more impressive when you learn that he did it in one take.  

Statik Selektah - "The Imperial" (2015)

Much like “Bird’s Eye View,” Statik Selektah allows Black Thought the majority of the song to showcase his lyrical skills on “The Imperial.” Action Bronson and Royce Da 5’9” deliver fantastic verses, lending their unique styles to the song. Much like Raekwon and Joey Bada$$ on “Bird’s Eye View,” it is very difficult to out-rap Action and Royce on a song. However, it is not for Black Thought as he raps for nearly three minutes, resulting in an earth-shattering verse that came close to the same acclaim as his Funk Flex freestyle. He raps at the highest level on this song with complex rhyme schemes and killer one-liners. 

Freddie Gibbs - "Extradite" (2015)

Rappers have struggled to keep up with one Black Thought verse, but Freddie Gibbs does a pretty good job keeping up on “Extradite.” It takes from “Nautilus,” Bob James’s 1974 song, one of the most sampled tracks in hip hop history. Freddie Gibbs is on point the entire time and can keep up with Black Thought most of the song. The amazing thing about the collaboration is that the beat goes through many different phases throughout. Black Thought spits two killer verses and can match Freddie’s tough rapping style with his clean, concise delivery.

PRhyme - "Wishin' II" (2015)

Much like “Extradite,” the beat on PRhyme’s “Wishin” changes throughout the song, forcing the rappers to keep up with the instrumental. The original version featured Common and was already impressive enough. “Wishin’ II” takes things to another level as Black Thought kicks one of his best verses. He starts over the slower portion of the beat with the same conviction as when it speeds up. He gets into his groove when the production speeds up. As mentioned, it is tough to out-rap Royce Da 5’9”, but Black Thought set the bar too high on this song. 

Roc Marciano - "Diamond Cutters" (2018)

During this later part of his career, Black Thought rapped over more experimental beats. These new and refreshing stylistic choices have helped him push musical boundaries. His appearance on Roc Marciano’s “Diamond Cutters” is a prime example of how unique production choices helped Black Thought approach songs differently. His sharp delivery and impressive rhyme schemes cut through the eerie flute sound in the beat. It contrasts well with Roc’s off-kilter flow. 

Benny The Butcher - "Crowns For Kings" (2019)

“Crowns For Kings” starts with one of Benny The Butcher’s best verses ever. He raps about his humble beginnings over the triumphant horns in the beat. It was a magnificent way to start a song and an EP. Black Thought’s verse, on the other hand, is last for a good reason. Not only is it one of his best guest verses, but it's the best verse on Benny’s EP. Black Thought matches Benny’s content in his bars as he paints a picture of being a kid surrounded by poverty and turning it into a success story. He raps, “We was crooks, tryna cop more rides than Great Adventure / Any image we took, not a father was in the picture.” It is easily one of the best Black Thought verses.

Eminem - "Yah Yah" (2020)

Like “In Tha Park,” Eminem’s “Yah Yah'' is a song that pays homage to the earlier eras of hip hop. The song is chaotic, consisting of a bombastic instrumental with energetic verses from Eminem, Royce Da 5’9”, and Black Thought. Black Thought sticks to the topics, referencing Slick Rick and J Dilla. He keeps listeners on their toes, constantly switching his rhyme schemes and keeping up with the rapid tempo of the beat.

Overall, Black Thought tends to have the best guest verse when he hops on a track. He has spit so many legendary guest verses that it is difficult to narrow the list down to ten. In addition to his latest release, Black Thought also recently announced two new albums.


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